“At Full Heart Child Care, we truly believe that play based learning is the only kind of learning! We started having Drew do professional development workshops for our staff in 2018, and in early 2019, we decided to bring his expertise directly to our classrooms as well! Drew spent several months providing center wide support in areas such as sensory play and loose parts. He not only gathered the materials needed to incorporate more sensory play, but taught teachers how to do so as well. Drew provided one-on-one support to several teachers to increase their knowledge of using loose parts in the classroom, and how to embrace “rough play” in a productive, safe way! He also helped to mentor teachers to build their confidence, recognize their strengths, and share their knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices with other staff members. Drew brought several new aspects of play to our outdoor playground area, most of which focused on nature, which we love at Full Heart! Drew is a highly-motivated individual who is able to provide support in whatever way needed. He will surely bring improvements to any center or program he is involved with!”
~Amanda Hellebush, Executive Director- Full Heart Child Care
Full Heart hired me to present my workshop entitled “Generation Joy™” then decided to have me come and do some consulting and coaching work. The first thing I did was visit each classroom and observe. I was so happy to have observed that all four classrooms implemented Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) on a level that I have not witnessed in the Rochester area since the closure of Ooey Gooey Playschool. I was thrilled! I realized I was “preaching to the choir” and that my work there was going to be successful because the teaching staff were onboard for the most part. That meant that we could skip the parts that take the most time and energy, mainly helping staff transition into providing DAP, and breaking bad teaching habits. They were already on the way to providing the best care and education for the families and children in their care.
All four Lead teachers were so wonderful with the children and classroom management. Since the Leads were already delivering DAP and other best practices, I convinced the director that we really need to invest in each one of them, give them autonomy and the leadership among staff. This was a little shift from a co-teaching model, to a lead/support model. We then decided that I should work with the Leads to fine tune their practice, so that they could go on and mentor the support staff that they work with, and uphold the standard for the entire program. The Leads were to become the “Standard Bearers” for the program.
I then asked them what they wanted to get out of their time working with me. For the most part they all had the same requests. So beyond coaching, they wanted me to help them with the learning environment both indoors and out, help them implement Loose Parts play with the children, help them implement Rough play, and help them become better ambassadors for DAP, so they can help train any incoming staff members and put them on the proper foundation.
As what seems to often happen when I am hired to consult, they sent me shopping with the company credit card. They needed some things that I thought they could use and I went and got them. Each classroom got two sensory bins and things to use with them. They also got gutter ramps and tubes, and plenty of loose parts.
In order to engage boys, who often have a lot of energy, it is important that motion be involved. Hence the ramps and tubes, but also I made catapults for all of the classrooms.
I provided baskets for loose parts, and other loose parts were placed around the environment for play and aesthetics. The kids loved playing with loose parts!
I modeled for them how to “set up the classroom environment” so when the kids arrive they have visual ques as to where to begin play.
I felt the outdoor environment could use some loose parts and more to make it all that it can be. Another staff member was inspired to do most of the work with the outdoor environment. Her and I worked together and made wonderful improvements to the playground.
We needed a second sandbox so we made one by lining it out with tires and filling the middle with new sand (not yet complete in the picture). We also added an easel for outside art, and a shed to keep materials and toys.
Families donated some kitchen supplies so I made a “rhythm section” on the fence.
The staff member working with me on the outdoor environment created these awesome tubes and ramps for ball rolling.
In order to introduce the children to wooden sticks, spoons, and other loose parts, that might become a weapon in their hands, we needed to introduce “soft sticks” to the children and the environment. “Soft sticks” are simply pool noodles cut in half to be used as “swords”, “lightsabers”, etc… The children are taught it is ok to hit others (that want to play like this) with them but not “hard sticks”. This became a sort of on-the-job training for the staff. We re-directed children to the “soft sticks” whenever it seemed they might use a real stick as a weapon. Not only was this training on redirection, but also introductory rough play. They were very receptive and even showed me some love on social media!
I spent a lot of time with the Lead Teachers coaching them. Helping them find their voice, and speak to how children learn. I helped them fine tune their practice and share with other staff how we should implement DAP. Full Heart and myself invested our confidence in them. They each have their own gifts and talents and some of them have been chosen to plan curriculum, and maintain an environment conducive to Professional Development. I started a game with the staff sort of like a quiz show where I mentioned different aspects of DAP and had the staff come up with the answers. One of the Leads has a great handle on DAP and she took over this when my time was done.
This experience was so wonderful, all of us were so successful! I worked myself out of the job, as the staff took over the work. I am so proud of them, and my time working with everyone at Full Heart Child Care!